Freelance Writer, Toronto
I met Harnoor and his wonderful mum some years ago and was immediately struck by the vision of this very young man regarding humanity, and his desire to do something “to change the world and make it a better and happier place for all”. I have had the joy of mentoring Harnoor as a young aspiring writer for some time and it is wonderful to see him getting the message out to so many youth today through all kinds of social media. It is indeed fitting to see him receive the ‘Punjabi Press Award of Canada’ from his own people. He said he was “on top of the world” when he received the wonderful surprise on the International Volunteer Day, sent by the local ethnic media, which said, “The Punjabi Press Club of Canada has decided to honor you at our annual Gala on Sunday December 14th 2014, at 6pm at the Chandni Convention Center for your extraordinarily services in the community.” Harnoor was invited along with three other well-known members of the community for their tremendous work.
The other nominations were: Gurbakhash Singh Khalsa, a well-known activist struggling for the release of Sikh prisoners in India; Nina Jhooti, the first Punjabi pro wrestler; last but not least Pardeep Singh Nagra who is a human rights activist and founder of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada.
Harnoor said, “The 13th annual gala was a-one-of-a-kind-event. I was pleased to be able to receive an opportunity to tell others about my work hoping that they will be inspired to give back. It was a great opportunity to meet great individuals and I had a great time with my family as well”.
Arriving in Canada from Hong Kong at four years of age, he faced many challenges as he grew up in a new society. He said he always felt that to be a Canadian meant to give back the community and that was his take-off point. He has dedicated every free hour (after school) as a volunteer in and beyond his own community in Georgetown, and invites other youth to do likewise.
“Reaching out to others is not an easy task”, remarked Harnoor, “and help them get out of their comfort zones and get involved, but the key is not to give up.” He feels he has been able to inspire people by bringing to the community first-hand experience in the areas of volunteering, multiculturalism, diversity, and politics.
As a high school student, he has definitely raised the bar that volunteering is not only to graduate with a high school diploma but it is also about being part of a community, and volunteering to help build that community. To date he has volunteered thousands of hours and other young people are following his lead. He founded a youth group known as the Peace Welcome Club (PWC), in Georgetown, where he encourages and mentors other youth to volunteer and to sustain community projects.
The Punjabi Press Club of Canada was founded in 2001, and is the pulse of the community of Punjabis in Ontario, with members in about 50 media outlets. The Club has been celebrating Award Galas since 2002 to honor certain individuals in the community who try to make it a better place for all to live. This year marks the 13th anniversary.
In a world where we often see many disenchanted youth who search for answers I believe Harnoor is a true role model to burn a trail in Canada and raise up new youth who are community-builders, which also means global builders of a new humanity, so needed in a world full of suffering at every turn! Together, he is convinced, ‘we can do much.’
Harnoor is an avid writer and writes for: Indo-Canadian Voice, Times of India, and a host of other publications. His articles have been read, liked, shared, tweeted, and even followed by the PWC community on a global stage. For over three years, he has covered many issues through his ventures for children, youth, poverty, social justice, environment, and politics.
- He has been recognized for his community service with the Canadian Family magazine’s Canada’s Top 15 Under 15 Award, the Young Conservationist Award, the YMCA Canada Peace Medal, the South Asian Teen of the Year Award, and most recently the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
- Harnoor has also been recognized for the renowned International Diana Award as Canada’s first Sikh youth who made international headlines when he won the international ‘Diana Award’ for his outstanding efforts to help the community in 2013. He made headlines on the international stage as Canada’s first Sikh youth to receive the award.